The Foundation of Tithes Shaken
by Thomas Ellwook; 1722

“He says, “The Tenth belongs to God!” The Nine Parts as well as the Tenth; for the Fulness of the Earth is the Lords psal. xxiv. 1. not a part only; the Cattle on a thousand Hills are his, Psal, l. 10. not the Tithes of them only. That Scripture therefore, Prov. iii. 9. Honour the Lord with thy Substance, is misapplied by the Priest, and, as he restrains it to the Payment of Tithes, is not a binding Rule to Christians as well as Jews, Christians being no where commanded by God to pay Tithes, as the Jews expressly were. But the Christian doth then honour God with his Substance, when thankfully receiving the Goods of this World from the Hand of the Lord, he doth in God’s holy Fear so use them, as not to abuse them. 1 Cor. vii. 31 when both in eating and drinking, and whatsoever else he does, he does all to the Glory of God, according to the Exhortation of the Apostle Paul 1 Cor. x. 31.

‘Tis not to be doubted but that God, from Whose bounty and blessing all is received, might reserve to Himself what share He pleased; but what He might do is one thing, what He did another. That He ever did appropriate the Tenth part, I find not in Scripture expressed, excepting only in the time of the Levitical Priesthood, for which there was a particular reason.

He then chose the Jewish nation to be His peculiar people, which people being divided into twelve tribes, He separated one entire Tribe, the Tribe of Levi, to attend the Service of the Tabernacle. The Land of Canaan He divided amongst the other Eleven Tribes, but gave the Tribe of Levi no Inheritance amongst them, Numb. xviii. 20,23,24. Deut. x. 9 for they being wholly employed in that service could not have leisure to attend the plow, or other Rural occupations. Seeing therefore He had excluded them from a share of the Land (the manuring of which would have taken them off from the Service He had designed them to ) and that by this means their Brethren, the other Eleven Tribes, amongst whom their part was shared, did all fare so much the better, their Respective lots being so much the greater, He commanded the Eleven Tribes that had the Lands, to pay the Tithes of the increase thereof, out of which this Twelfth Tribe should be maintained. And while that Priesthood and Polity stood, which Tithes were suitable and appropriated to, this Tithing command was in force, and no longer. But that even God did reserve the tenth, or command the payment of Tithes to any, before the Constitution of the Levitical Priesthood, or since the Dissolution thereof, I nowhere read in Scripture. This is proper for the Asserters of the Divine Right of Tithes to prove, and indeed so absolutely necessary, that if they fail of this, all they can say beside will be too weak to bear their Title up. For in a matter of so great moment, it is not bare Conjectures or mere Suppositions, nor Probability neither, will serve the turn, but Positive Precept. The Levitical Priesthood was not left to such Incertainties.”

The above paragraphs are, for the most part, Scripturally and Doctrinally sound.  There is one discrepancy though,…

Much like how we today work at our jobs in shifts, the Levites worked in the Temple by courses. They were not all at the Temple at the same time.  Given the huge number of Levites in the land of Canaan, for all of them to work at the Temple at the same time would be an impossibility.

Example:  Employed in the Temple were four thousand porters. (doorkeepers)  Also employed in the Temple were four thousand musicians.  There were other job descriptions in the Temple as well.

But, let us look at the doorkeepers alone.  How many doors would have to be in the Temple in order for all musicians to never leave the Temple?  Were there really that many doors in the Temple?  Was there even enough room in the Temple for that many doors? or for four thousand Levites to be working at any given minute?

Now, add the porters.  The working room gets even more crampted, with eight thousand Levites on the grounds at all times,… if they never left the Temple.

Now, add the other job descriptions listed in 1 Chronicles 24-26.  There would be no room to work, much less to breathe, if each Levites never left  the Temple.

The Jewish Calendar consists of 354 days, as opposed of our 365 day calendar.  If we take those eight thousand workers of the Temple and divide by 354,  we can see a more logical numbers of these two classes of workers at the Temple on any given day.  The number is decreased to less than twenty-five porters and musicians at the Temple on any given day.

Again, factor in the other workers of the Temple.  It is easier to see that most of the time, the workers of the Temple were at home with their families.  The job descriptions of some workers only allowed them to work less than a week in any given year.

Clearly, being home most of their time, (in the forty-eight appointed cities in Canaan) the Levites worked some kind of trade to keep them occupied.

For this reason, we see the discrepancy in Thomas Ellwood’s article.